Pfff I don’t think I’ve ever had a busier Christmas holiday than this year’s…but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world, I had a great holiday. Thanks everyone!
So looking back at my blog I see that my last post was written on Boxing day, or well, the night before. So on Boxing day we celebrated Christmas at my mother’s parents, together with my uncles, aunt and cousins. Sinterklaas was postponed until I had gotten back (or St. Nick’s Day as people who celebrate it here call it) so we spent the better part of the afternoon reading hilarious poems (especially the one my very youthful aunt got) and unwrapping delicately put together presents we found under my grandparents’ 14ft Christmas tree (such as 30 oyster shells held together with tape with little presents or Christmas wishes inside, only to find the actual present at the bottom of the crate). There was also an issue of the family newspaper, and one of my uncles had made copies of all previous issues (going back 10 or 11 years).
On Friday Dec. 28 I went to Leiden to visit some friends. First I had lunch and tea with my housemate Sander (with some great chocolates from a cool chocolate shop). I then rushed to the English pub for Glühwein and Whiskey with Judith (sorry I was late!). On Sunday Hans and I went to the Efteling, our favourite theme park, which had been beautifully decorated for the holidays. Monday morning we had to say goodbye to “Ome Bart” and I spent New Year’s Eve watching TV. Jan. 1st was a lazy day, and I needed the rest because there was a big shopping expedition on Jan 2nd in Maastricht with mum and Diana. There I also met up with Sander, a PhD student from Tilburg, for coffee at a place that gets pretty close to a Starbucks experience, perhaps a bit fancier, but at least closer than any other place in the Netherlands. The first stop of the day was at a place called Chocolate Company by the way, yet another great initiative for chocolate lovers :). I noticed some t-shirts in shops saying “Sunset Blvd” and “Santa Monica Beach”, so weird ;). Thursday was yet another shopping day, mainly to get my brother Hans some new clothes, but Sara and I got some cool stuff too. In the evening I had a lovely dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant in Breda with my dear uncles. Peter came up with the idea of just filling the table with lots of different dishes and then just eat them tapas-style. The Grappa at the end was a bit too much (the waiter accidentally brought a glass to many which he then poured into mine…when I got home Hans asked me if I’d been drinking windscreen washer fluid…). On Friday I caught up with Steve and Piroska at Tilburg University, which was still very quiet. Saturday I went to Leiden again for tea with Judith and Arthur and dinner at & by Steve (great curry!) and I got to play my blue guitar again (which Steve is looking after for while I’m in LA). Sunday is traditionally a day that Dutch people go for a hike in the forest, so that’s what I did with my parents, We went to one of my favourite places where there’s also a large field of heather (although it was too muddy to traipse around that). On the way back we stopped at my mother’s parents to say goodbye, and to pick up my black velvet jacket that my grandmother had adjusted to fit me better. When we got home we had tea with my dad’s parents. The day was concluded with another Dutch Sunday tradition: takeaway Chinese!!! On my last day in the Netherlands I went to Tilburg University for half a day, because I still had some things to get in shops and I also wanted to hang out with my family a bit more. I had fun in Tilburg though, it’s a fun place. In the evening I played our favourite boardgame Settlers of Catan with my parents and Hans. I should practice more, I keep losing to mum and Hans these days whereas I used to be pretty good at it!
On Tuesday morning my parents drove me to Schiphol again to fly back to the sun and my second life in the US. I hate goodbyes, but it’s for a good cause, and it’s not forever :). My first flight went pretty smoothly, I was sitting next to a company doctor from Rotterdam who was quite fun to talk to, I also read my magazine for a bit, and slept for a few hours…Getting through immigration at Chicago went pretty OK too, thankfully the customs didn’t confiscate my ‘eierkoeken’, Gouda and ‘pepernoten’ so I still have a little piece of Holland here :). My second flight was delayed about 45 minutes, and there was no food, which was when the ‘eierkoeken’ came in handy :D. It was nice to land in Los Angeles again, especially the last part of the flight was quite enjoyable as we flew over the city, only when you see the endless grid of lights stretched out underneath you, you get a hint of how big LA really is…
I managed to stay awake until about 22:00 on Tuesday evening (which was really 07:00 Wednesday morning Dutch-time) and then went to sleep. Only to be wide awake again at 04:00 the next morning, same thing happened the next night. But cycling along the beach again in the morning helps, and then the coke with real sugar I also imported from the Netherlands to fight off the drowsiness in the afternoon. I actually started writing this blog post last night, but I was so tired that I fell asleep about halfway, and I slept until about 08:00 this morning, so I guess fatigue won last night :). It’s also fun to be back at ISI. There was the ISD lunch yesterday, the bagel breakfast this morning, I already had some cool meetings, some Starbucks coffee/tea breaks and this afternoon I there was a fun talk by Kevin Knight.
It’s good to be back 🙂